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Former Arizona Regulator Among Top Candidates To Replace Powelson at FERC

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Energy Daily, July 20, 2018 | By Jeff Beattie

Sources say the Trump administration is working quickly to replace outgoing GOP Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Robert Powelson, with former Arizona energy regulator Doug Little under serious consideration and other candidates including NRG Energy executive and former Energy Department general counsel David Hill, former Wisconsin energy regulator Ellen Nowak and Bruce Walker, assistant secretary of DOE’s Office of Electricity.

Another candidate that has been discussed is Travis Kavulla, past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and vice chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission, the sources say. Powelson stunned FERC stakeholders June 28 by announcing he will leave the commission in mid-August, after just a year at the commission, to become president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies. 

At that time, Republicans will lose their 3-2 majority at FERC, evening the commission out at two Democrats and two Republicans, until Powelson’s replacement is approved by the Senate.

However, Senate Democrats may be inclined to block a vote on a GOP replacement for Powelson, and may not relent until they can pair that nominee with a Democratic appointee to FERC—the usual path for confirmation of appointees to key federal regulatory agencies in the politically riven Senate. The first opportunity to name a Democrat to FERC will come in June 2019 when Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s term expires.

Such a delay in getting a third Republican vote at FERC could pose problems for FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre’s efforts to advance key initiatives because LaFleur and Richard Glick, the commission’s other Democrat, have strongly dissented on several decisions pushed through by FERC’s GOP majority. 

And with the prospect of partisan deadlock clearly looming after Powelson’s departure, McIntyre now has little time left to move his agenda.

In particular, FERC is unlikely to finish a comprehensive review of its natural gas pipeline permitting policies before Powelson departs, McIntrye acknowledged to reporters following the commission’s monthly open
meeting Thursday. 

Pipeline permitting has recently split the commission on a partisan basis, with LaFleur and Glick saying FERC should begin assessing the greenhouse impacts of new pipelines in deciding whether to issue permits, a view FERC’s Republicans do not share. 

More broadly, FERC’s Democrats have raised questions about efforts by the commission’s Republican majority to speed reviews of proposed pipeline projects. While McIntrye has launched a review of FERC’s 19-year-old policy statement on how it evaluates pipeline applications, Democrats are pushing for tougher assessments of new projects, including whether FERC should continue to rely heavily on shipper contracts signed by affiliates of pipeline developers as indicators of market need.

FERC is also likely to deadlock on a controversial case involving how regional transmission organizations should accommodate state-subsidized power plants in their wholesale markets, a stubborn problem for FERC that has led to several court conflicts.

On June 29, FERC’s GOP majority proposed a two-pronged plan designed to assure that the subsidized plants do not suppress wholesale prices in PJM Interconnection, the grid operator for most of the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest. Glick and LaFleur dissented strongly on a variety of grounds.

FERC gave parties 60 days for comment on its plan for PJM, meaning that FERC is likely to be deadlocked at 2-2 on next steps in the proceeding until Powelson’s replacement arrives.

As for the possible replacement, sources say some of the people under consideration made their interest known and others’ names were forwarded to administration officials. Two industry sources said Little is under serious consideration for the FERC slot.

Little joined DOE last year as deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental and external affairs after more than three years at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), including a year as chairman in 2016. At the
ACC and elsewhere, he was a strong supporter of fossil-fueled baseload power plants, which could give him a leg up with Trump, who has pledged to keep financially ailing coal plants and nuclear plants open.

Upon taking the job at DOE, Little told the Arizona Capital Media Services that he was joining the Trump administration to maintain “fossil baseload generation.”

One industry source pointed out that Little also has an advantage as a western-state candidate for FERC who could balance out a commission filled with eastern-state commissioners. That could please the several western state senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which reviews FERC nominees.

Little’s nomination also would place a former state energy regulator on the commission, a background that is common among FERC commissioners and crucial to helping FERC through tricky federal-state jurisdictional debates over energy markets.

On Wednesday, NARUC passed a resolution urging Trump to appoint a state energy regulator to FERC, noting that past administrations have frequently done so.

All in all, Little “is a Trump guy, from a western state, with a state regulatory background—that is a pretty strong resume for what would fit FERC right now,” said one source.

Hill, meanwhile, is a familiar Washington hand, having served as DOE general counsel from 2005 to 2009 under President George W. Bush and more recently at NRG Energy, one of the nation’s biggest merchant generators. According to his LinkedIn page, Hill recently transitioned to a senior advisor role at NRG after having served as executive vice president and general counsel for more than five years.

Nowak joined the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in 2011 and was named chairman by Gov. Scott Walker (R) in 2015. She has served as Wisconsin’s secretary of administration since March, and earlier this year was one of Walker’s candidates to fill a seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, although she was not chosen. 

Walker might offer a relatively quick and smooth confirmation process in the Senate, having won approval by the chamber only last fall to head up DOE’s electricity office. That would be attractive to Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) because it would help restore FERC’s Republican majority relatively quickly. One of FERC’s current Republicans—Neil Chatterjee—is a former McConnell aide.

Walker previously served as vice president of asset strategy and policy for National Grid–US, and director for corporate emergency management at Consolidated Edison, among other positions.

As always, the wild card for an open commission seat is whether a highly placed senator wants to promote an aide to the job. Before Chatterjee and Powelson were appointed, an aide to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patrick McCormick, was widely seen as a likely nominee to the commission. That never happened, however.

Energy Daily Monday, April 3, by Jeff Beattie: Senate nuke waste hearing scotched after kerfuffle over NEI policy paper

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

The day after a surprise dustup between nuclear industry officials and three senators sponsoring nuclear waste legislation, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski Friday announced the cancellation of Tuesday’s planned hearing to discuss proposed nuclear waste legislation.

A spokesman for Murkowski cited a compressed workload and three days of lengthy deliberations last week on comprehensive energy legislation as a factor in the cancellation of the hearing, and he suggested it would be rescheduled.

However, the cancellation came one day after what sources describe as a dispute between the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and three sponsors of the bill (S.854) that was to be discussed Tuesday, including Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Sources say Murkowski, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) were taken aback by “principles” for new nuclear waste legislation recently circulated by NEI, which would bar developing a central nuclear waste storage facility until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided whether to license the permanent Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

That clashes with S.854—also sponsored by Sen Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)—which aims to speed development of a centralized interim storage site for the nation’s nuclear waste. While the bill would allow simultaneous development of the storage and Yucca facilities, NEI’s plan could severely delay storage facilities by first requiring a licensing decision on the controversial Yucca project.

Sources say Murkowski and Alexander met Thursday with NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin Fertel to discuss their unhappiness with NEI’s paper linking startup of a storage project with a Yucca license decision.

While declining to link the disagreement to Tuesday’s hearing cancellation, the Murkowski spokesman said the chairman was “disappointed in the change in policy and let NEI know that that she remains commit ted to moving to consolidated storage on a parallel track with permanent storage.”

While NEI has always supported Yucca, it appears to be taking a more aggressive stance in favor of the project because of the coming 2016 departure of Democratic Leader Harry Red (Nev.) and President Barack Obama, who both have tried to kill Yucca.

Copyright Energy Daily

Reprinted with Permission


Friday, March 25th, 2011

March 25, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Three Republican Senators stepped up to the plate Thursday morning and reiterated their support of nuclear power, despite calls for a moratorium or shutting down reactors in the face of the Fukushima accident.

"We don’t have a form of energy production in the United States with a better record than nuclear power," Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told a press gathering at the nation’s Capitol.  "I don’t think we should be making long-term, domestic U.S. policy based on something that happened in another part of the world," added Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.  "We certainly need to observe it, learn from it."

Senator Alexander has been a leading figure in the effort to revive nuclear, calling for the construction of 100 new reactors over the next twenty years. 

Democrats at the press gathering were more cautious.  I think we all pause and examine what happened and what these plants look like. Of course, I mean, we need to have a lot more information than we have now," Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio told the audience.     "We need to have a way for a complete safety assessment," added Senator Diane Feinstein of California. "I think that’s the important thing, particularly plants that are of vintage, plants that are close to faults, plants that are close together. Seems to be that’s the emerging no-no."

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama warned against a moratorium on the model of oil drilling after the Gulf oil spill.  "I am not for delays," he said.  "They delayed in the Gulf and they still haven’t started drilling again."  Texas Republican John Cornyn added that safety issues in nuclear had already been given extensive scrutiny.  "We’ve had a virtual shutdown of new reactors for the last 30 years, so I don’t think we need any more brakes on it, especially if we’re going to make ourselves less dependent on foreign sources of energy," he said.

Although the Senate does not have any particularly nuclear issues before it now, the debate may be joined if the issue of extending loan guarantees or reviving Yucca Mountain come to the floor.

Read more about it at WAMU News Radio


Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

February 22, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Ever wonder where all those legions of young people who believe the world can run on wind and solar energy get their ideas?  No need to look any further. The University of Maine has laid it all out for us.
This op-ed, written for the school newspaper by a senior engineering students, describes a recent Renewable Energy Meeting in which faculty and administrators decided what will be taught on the Maine campus in campus in coming years. The lessons will be:
1)    Global warming is a world threat
2)    China is increasing its consumption of fossil fuels
3)    World peak oil may soon be a reality, and
4)    “we don’t have the infrastructure to ship and deliver our own natural resources; and the threat of terrorist attacks is too high to trust the far most efficient energy source of nuclear power. “  (Just what terrorists would do with a nuclear reactor besides shut it down is never discussed.)
As a result of all this, wind and solar are the only options and are the only thing that will be taught or discussed on the UMaine campus.
Author Alexander Polk describes one engineering student, Jim LaBrecque, who had the courage to stand up and question all these assumptions. “Before LaBrecque could finish his complete thought, he was rudely interrupted by Evelyn Silver, the senior advisor to UMaine President Robert Kennedy,” writes Polk. “Throughout LaBrecque’s moment on the floor, Silver shook her head and spoke with her neighbors. She was very close-minded on the issue, cutting off all naysayers.”
And for this people are paying $15,000 a year in tuition?  A job in the local power plant would provide a better education.

Read more about it at Maine Campus


Thursday, February 10th, 2011

February 10, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

All eyes in Washington are fixed on the national debt ceiling and the brinkmanship involved when it has to be extended in the next two months. Will the government shut down or won’t it?  But by next March the same attention may be focused Vermont Yankee and the brinkmanship over whether or not New England is going to end up without any electricity.
Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana pointed to the coming showdown this week when the charged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewing license renewals under a “dual standard,” granting them quickly where there is no political opposition but delaying them indefinitely where controversy has arisen. Although they did not mention any specific reactors, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton last week specifically cited the Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim license renewals as having been delayed for five years.
"In cases where local opposition has been minimal or non-existent, the NRC has indeed kept to the average 22-month review schedules,” NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said in a response. “In the cases of Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim and Indian Point, local residents have exercised their ability to legally challenge the renewal applications. The NRC respects their right to do so."
Local residents are indeed campaigning to close down all three reactors, since anti-nuclear sentiment is strong in the Northeast and the area is populated by the kind of professional amateurs who have no idea where electricity comes from or how it is generated. The Vermont governor’s election last year was essentially decided on the issue of Vermont Yankee (the candidate who wants to close it won) and in New York the state attorney general’s office has been laboring long and hard to close down Indian Point. Naturally, the NRC is afraid of being accused that it is “in the pocket of the industry” by relicensing. But at some point somebody’s going to have to figure out how to generate some electricity as well.
The New England Independent Systems Operator, which does know how to generate electricity, has been issuing warnings that losing Vermont Yankee’s 600 megawatts will destabilize the entire New England grid. "Without Vermont Yankee in service, potential reliability issues could include thermal overloads on high-voltage transmission lines and voltage instability, either of which could damage equipment, compromise grid stability, or cause uncontrolled outages," said the ISO in a report last August. The loss would require "emergency generation brought into Vermont temporarily, more expensive generation from outside Vermont and demand side resources" and ultimately new transmission line construction.
Even then, the drama over Vermont Yankee next March will be only a preview to the bigger show as the deadline for Indian Point 2 and 3 approaches in 2014. The two Hudson River plants produce one-quarter of New York City’s electricity. That’s an awful lot of windmills to throw up in so short a time.

Read more about it at Platt’s


Friday, January 21st, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
January 21, 2011

Environmental activists showed they are not ready to back down in the face of a Republican House of Representatives by winning a decision in District of Columbia Federal Court to accelerate EPA regulation of air pollution against the EPA’s own wishes.
The EPA, which is already trying to tighten air regulations much faster than previous administrations, had asked for a 15-month delay in imposing a standard of “maximum achievable control technology” on industrial boilers around the country with regard to soot, mercury and other pollutants. The EPA had asked for more time to buttress its findings in preparation for court challenges. A coalition of environmental groups opposed the delay, however, by bringing suit in the D.C. Court of Appeals. The D.C. Court of Appeals has always been a favorite of environmental groups since it sits in Washington and is far removed from the influences of Industrial America.
The decision will put the EPA at a fork in the road with the new Republican House majority, particularly Fred Upton of Michigan, the new chairman of the energy and commerce committee. Upton has already singled out the so-called “MACT” standard as a “job-killing” measure.
Even the EPA said it regretted the judge’s decision. “The agency believes these changes still deserve further public review and comment and expects to solicit further comment through a reconsideration of the rules,” the agency said in a statement. Meanwhile, industry groups reacted with dismay. “[A]ll of industry, universities and district energy providers will have to spend tens of millions of dollars ­ perhaps unnecessarily ­ to prepare to meet the new standards,” said Bob Bessette, president of the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners.
But for now environmental groups are in the driver’s seat. They are pushing the EPA towards an extremely high standard of regulation even faster than the EPA wants. It looks like the next battleground will be Capitol Hill.

Read more about it at The Hill


Friday, December 31st, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 31, 2010


An unidentified source in a French news story says the Obama Administration may be holding back from awarding a federal loan guarantee to NRG’s South Texas project because it is in the Lone Star State. 

"According to one source, the Obama administration would prefer the loan guarantee to go to the Calvert Cliffs project in Maryland, which is a Democratic state, rather than to NRG’s project in largely Republican Texas," says this report from Agence France-Presse.  "According to the same source the DoE would also prefer the money go to EDF to avoid the risk of making the US nuclear sector over-reliant on Japanese technology."

The story is a boilerplate review for French readers spelling out Electricite de France’s difficulties in reviving Calvert Cliffs after its partner, Constellation Energy, dropped off the project two month ago. The comment comes far down near the end of the story.  Still, it has a ring of plausibility, since the Obama Administration is about to square off with Texas over the authority to issue air quality permits regulating carbon, beginning January 2.  On the other hand, it’s hard to see why relying on Japanese technology is any different from relying on French technology.  The real problem is that there is very little American technology remaining since the roadblocks to nuclear development erected in the past 30 years have driven most of the industry offshore.

Constellation walked away from Calvert Cliffs after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the chances of a loan default at 50 percent and asked a $700 million fee in compensation.  EDF has tried to revive the project but must find an American partner to satisfy a 1950s law saying non-American companies cannot own more than half of a commercial reactor.  NRG’s South Texas project has had its own troubles, with the City of San Antonio pulling out of the project when it became too expensive.  NRG is attempting to build two Westinghouse Advanced Boiling Water Reactors, a technology that is not the most advanced but has an old approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The more advanced technology, the Westinghouse-Toshiba AP1000, now under construction at four sites in China, is still under review at the NRC after six years.   EDF’s Calvert Cliffs project would be an Areva’s U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), a duplicate of the European Power Reactor that Areva is constructing in France and Finland.  The only remaining U.S. design, General Electric’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, is now being marketed in conjunction with Hitachi.

If the Obama Administration wants to promote American nuclear technology, it will have to do more than block loan guarantees at South Texas.


Read more at Agence France Presse



Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 22, 2010

One thing you learn quickly in Washington is that to get any major piece of legislation passed, you have to include something for everybody. Thus, whatever energy bill may emerge from the 212th Congress is likely to include just about everything.

“With Republicans set to assume control of the House and take more seats in the Senate in January, increasing chatter on energy policy has focused on a more comprehensive standard that would go beyond a pure RES to include nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies,” reports Gloria Gonzalez at `“Renewable is out,’ said John Juech, vice-president, policy analysis for consultancy Garten Rothkopf in Washington, DC. `Clean is the new language.’”

But what’s clean?  The more appropriate question might be, “What isn’t?” 

The standard would work well for nuclear energy, since it would at last put the atom on an equal footing with wind, solar and the other “renewables.”  More than half the states now have “renewable standards” and windmill and solar developers are now throwing up huge complexes without any regard to what it will cost consumers or how these intermittent sources will be incorporated onto the grid.

Then last week, J. Wayne Leonard, CEO of Entergy, owner of the nation’s second largest nuclear fleet, argued in The Wall Street Journal that natural gas has to be included in any kind of “clean standard.”  So what’s left?  Dirty old coal. But you can bet the powerful coal states will find some way to have that grandfathered in as well.

Probably the best thing to do would be to remove all mandates, subsidies and tax incentives and let the market decide. We’d mostly put up natural gas plants but some far-sighted utility executives would also think about making an 80-year investment in a nuclear reactor. Then the problem would be getting a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and wading through the blizzard of lawsuits from nuclear opponents. Sovereign wealth funds from France, Japan, Korea or even Russia or China would probably fund the whole ordeal.

Yet if Gonzalez is right, we may instead get an everybody-on-board “clean energy standard” that instructs utilities to build wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, gas, nuclear, clean coal – take your pick. That will be our new “national energy policy.”

Read more about it at Oil Price


Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 16, 2010
From the Editors


Anti-nuclear groups have discovered a new way to block the development of new nuclear reactors – call in the Securities Exchange Commission.
This week the SEC suspended trading of Alternate Energy Holding Corporation (AEHI) after the Snake River Alliance orchestrated a campaign to block the company’s plans to build a nuclear reactor in rural Idaho.
In announcing the investigation, the SEC raised concerns about AEHI’s ability to fund construction of a $5 billion reactor plus compensations made to “certain AEHI officers.”  "The commission cautions brokers, dealers, shareholders, and prospective purchasers that they should carefully consider the foregoing information along with all other currently available information and any information subsequently issued by the company," the SEC warned.
The probe comes at a crucial point when AEHI appearing to be making substantial progress with its admittedly ambitious plans. This week the Payette County zoning commission voted 10-to-1 to rezone AEHI’s property to accommodate a reactor. Don Gillispie, the Navy veteran who is CEO of AEHI, called the decision “monumental” and said it was “the first decision of its kind regarding a western US Greenfield nuclear site in 33 years and the first rezone ever of a Greenfield site for an independent company.”  “We haven’t had any complaints from investors,” he added.
Instead, according to Sun Valley Online, the entire SEC investigation has been prompted by complaints from Snake River Alliance, which has opposed the project from day one. “The Alliance and legions of concerned Idahoans have been urging state and federal securities investigators for more than two years to examine the behavior and financial practices of AEHI,” Liz Woodruff, policy analyst for the Alliance told Sun Valley Online. “This is a company that has been misinforming Idaho investors, county officials, and others almost since arriving in Idaho four years ago today. AEHI President and CEO Don Gillispie has tried to explain away the reasons for his company’s failure to attract legitimate investors and to move this project forward, but he cannot explain away an SEC investigation. It is unfathomable that AEHI can now attract any investors with an SEC cloud over its head.”
“Woodruff, who has worked with local residents in Elmore and Payette County, . . called on Payette County officials to immediately halt their consideration of AEHI’s rezoning application, which just last week received a favorable 10-1 recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission to the County Commission for consideration,” the Sun Valley Online report continued. “Woodruff said. `For Payette County, it’s better late than never.’”
What is obviously shaping up, then, is the usual situation where the broad community supports a project but a highly dedicated band of activists with better access to the media and government agencies is able to neutralize popular sentiment. The pattern is seen over and over with reactors, where local support often approaches 90 percent but small, vocal activist groups are able to convince the media that there is widespread opposition. Press reports routinely declare that “NIMBY” opposition is what is holding up nuclear progress but the opposite is true. People who are most affected by reactors are usually most in favor of them.
The SEC may also discover that AEHI’s ambitions are not as impractical as they might seem. Gillispie has no illusions that he will be able to raise $5 billion to build a reactor but says AEHI plans to do all the preliminary work leading to a license application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and then hand the project over to an established company. Many start-up ventures work this way. Since France, Korea and Japan are all offering funding and loan guarantees to support their domestic nuclear industries, the prospect that one of them might pick up the Idaho project is not all that unlikely.
In addition, although the reactor project serves as AEHI’s shop window, the company has several other potential sources of revenue. AEHI just completed its first full-scale model of an Energy Neutral Home and is planning to franchise their construction. Its Green Water World subsidiary also has an agreement with a Chinese company to market reactors for desalinization of water in the developing world.
Nuclear critics always argue that nuclear technology is completely impractical and is only being forced on the country by some gigantic “nuclear industry.”  (The fact that such an industry no longer exists in the United States usually escapes them.)  AEHI represents the complete opposite – a small, entrepreneurial venture working from the ground up in an attempt to realize nuclear energy’s enormous untapped potential. It’s nice to know the anti-nukes are opposed to that business model as well.
AEHI will have until December 28 to respond to the charges.

Read more about it at World Nuclear News


Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The chances that split control of Congress would not degenerate into partisan bickering seem to be diminishing already as Republicans announced they are ready to go after Obama administration environmental officials.

Target number one will be the Environmental Protection Agency’s January campaign to begin regulating carbon emissions at the state level. EPA is already playing a high-stakes game, threatening to block new construction projects until they reduce their carbon emissions, and is likely to meet opposition on all fronts. Texas has already filed suit against the EPA actions and others are sure to follow.
But Republicans are threatening to take their opposition one step further and put the entire climate issue on trial. This week Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, asked the new leadership to keep the committee intact so he can use it as a forum to question the whole theory of climate change. “The threat of the EPA’s reach into the economy is so great that it deserves special attention this Congress, and no panel has developed more experience on these topics,” said Sensenbrenner. Many observers had assumed that Republicans would dissolve the committee when they took over in January.
Not content with stopping the EPA, Republicans are also planning to get personal. In a Human Events article this weekRep. Fred Upton, the frontrunner to take over the Energy and Commerce Committee, said he specifically plans to target Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change, for her role in promoting the EPA carbon regulations.
Upton accused Browner of having defied a judge’s orders by erasing all her emails upon leaving her former post as head of EPA under the Clinton Administration. “In spite of the judge’s order, outgoing EPA Administrator Browner instructed an EPA technician to erase all of her email and to wipe the hard drive clean. Two years later, a judge ruled against EPA in this matter and held that ‘EPA acted in contempt of the Court’s order.’” 
He also noted that, one of Obama’s “czars,” Browner never had to be vetted by Congress. “She was the Obama administration’s point person for a massive economy-killing national energy tax in the form of a cap-and-trade scheme,” wrote Upton. “This circumvention is wholly unacceptable, especially given Browner’s wide-ranging legislative portfolio and influence within the administration.”
As Politico perceptively points out, the real conflict in the Congress is regional rather than political. “[E]nergy policy historically breaks down more along regional lines than partisan ones,” writes Darren Samuelsohn in today’s story. “Come January, it will still be the same coal and Rust Belt lawmakers battling Southern oil and nuclear power interests and renewables advocates from the coasts and Great Plains.”
Yet it’s hard to see how nuclear gets cubbyholed as a “Southern” interest. Chicago-based Exelon is the largest owner of nuclear plants and the greatest concentration of reactors is in the Midwest. It is only recently that the South has become a focus of nuclear development, mainly because it has not deregulated electricity and because of a large concentration of Navy personnel who know the technology.
The real split is between people who understand nuclear and people who don’t and are therefore afraid of it. Hopefully, before Congress tears itself apart with partisan bickering, both sides can unite around the principle that nuclear is the way forward on energy.

Read more about it at Politico and here